Godzilla (comics)

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Godzilla has appeared in a range of comic books that have been published in Japan and the United States.

Japanese Godzilla comics[edit]

Godzilla battles Hedorah on the cover of the 1971 manga adaptation of Godzilla vs. Hedorah

In his native Japan, Godzilla has been featured in various comic books since his inception in 1954. These comics for the most part were black and white publications known as manga. The vast majority of these comics were adaptations of the films. Every film from Godzilla to Godzilla 2000: Millennium received a comic book adaptation[1] with the exception of King Kong vs. Godzilla. In addition, all the films from Godzilla vs. Megaguirus to Godzilla: Final Wars did not receive a comic book adaptation.

For the most part there were anywhere from two to four different adaptations of each film. For example the first comic adaptation of Godzilla vs. Biollante was called Godzilla 1990, while the second adaptation of Godzilla vs. Mothra was called Godzilla vs. Mothra: Great Study.[2] Most of these comics (in particular the comics from the 1950s through the 1970s) were published in children's magazines such as Bokura, Bouken Oh, and Shonen, while others were published in Yellow Pages-sized weekly or monthly publications, while still others were published as one-shots and sold in movie theaters. Many of the latter comics (1980s–1990s) were published by Shogakukan Comics, Tentomushi Comics, and Kodansha Comics. In the early 1990s, many of the original adaptations from the original series of Godzilla films were compiled into two pocketbook-sized volumes and reprinted by Bamboo Books. In 1992, Bamboo would reprint Godzilla's battles with King Ghidorah from earlier manga into a collection called Battle History of Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah.[3]

Most of the time these adaptations would deviate from the original films and flesh out characters or add scenarios to the stories that were not present in the original film. Outside of these adaptations, many of the original Godzilla films also received Asahi Sonorama book and record sets. These illustrated comic-style book and record sets featured painted artwork within.[4]

Outside of these adaptations, Godzilla was also featured in original stories as well. A sequel story to the original film was published in 1955 called The Last Godzilla, while a sequel story to Godzilla Raids Again was published in 1958 called Godzilla Continued: Anguirus Strikes Back. In 1979, the Japanese edition of Starlog featured a two-part illustrated story written by Katsuhiro Otomo called A Space Godzilla. Part one was featured in issue #4 ("Farewell Earth")[5] while Part 2 was featured in issue #6 ("Return to the Stars").[6] In 1990 an anthology-style comic featuring different stories by different writers and artists was published called The Godzilla Comic.[7] This was followed in 1991 by a second anthology-style comic also featuring different stories by different writers and artists called The Godzilla Comic Raids Again: Gigantis the Fire Comic.[8] These two comics featured varying styles of stories.[9] The stories would range from typical Godzilla tales, to comedic stories, to violent stories, to even "adult"-themed stories that contained nudity.

In 2014, to coincide with the 60th anniversary of Godzilla and the 40th anniversary of the company's own Big Comic Original Magazine, Shogakukan Inc. released the comic Big Comic Original Godzilla Special Issue. This one-shot comic featured 21 Godzilla-themed comic stories from the industry's top manga artists and writers.[10]

In 2018, Toho will produce a manga serial to be published in Weekly Shonen Jump based on the film Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters.[11]

U.S. Godzilla comics[edit]

Through the years since 1976, there have been various Godzilla comics published by different comic book publishing companies. These range from promotional comics to comics published by large mainstream comic companies such as Marvel Comics.

Godzilla vs. Megalon comic[edit]

The first Godzilla comic published in the United States was actually a small promotional comic. In the summer of 1976 (as part of the publicity promoting the upcoming U.S. release of the film Godzilla vs. Megalon), a small 4-page comic book adaptation was published by Cinema Shares International Distribution Corp. and given away for free at movie theaters. The comic featured no credits (so the artist and writer are unknown) and featured no cover. It was magazine-sized and published on newsprint. The comic is infamous for getting names of two of the major characters wrong as Jet Jaguar is referred to as "Robotman" and Gigan is referred to as "Borodan".[12]

Marvel Comics[edit]

Godzilla faces the Avengers in Godzilla, King of the Monsters #23 (June 1979) from Marvel Comics. Cover art by Herb Trimpe and Dan Green

From 1977 through 1979, Godzilla starred in a 24-issue run[13] of comics written by Doug Moench, drawn by Herb Trimpe, and published by Marvel Comics entitled Godzilla, King of the Monsters.[14] The series thrusts Godzilla completely into the Marvel Universe. In a nod to King Kong vs. Godzilla, Godzilla first appears by exploding out of an iceberg near Alaska; although how the prehistoric creature came to be trapped again in ice is never revealed. Over the course of the series, he crosses the continental United States and eventually ends up in New York City.[15]

Godzilla's appearances in the Toho films are alluded to in a few issues. In at least one issue, Godzilla seems like the lesser of two evils. He clashes with a monster far more evil, who generally acts more like an actual animal, albeit one with unusual levels of intelligence. Despite such allusions to the films, Godzilla is depicted as more animal-like than as the highly intelligent, perhaps sapient, creature depicted in the majority of the films by the time of the comics' printing (1977–79), in what is considered the Showa period of Godzilla films (1954–75). This version of Godzilla, while intelligent, is not the protector of mankind; however, he does, at times, exhibit compassion for human characters such as "Dum Dum" Dugan, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who is tasked with his capture, destruction, or repulsion from America, and Robert "Little Rob" Takiguchi, the grandson of Japanese scientific expert Dr. Yuriko Takiguchi, who regards Godzilla as a hero and who is depicted as being Godzilla's only human friend. Unlike other characters whose actions, thoughts, and feelings are told through thought balloons, Godzilla's are narrated externally via captions.

Godzilla encounters not only agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. during the course of the series but many other heroes in the Marvel Comics universe. Among them are the now-defunct group the Champions[16] (sans Ghost Rider, though he was a member at the time), the Fantastic Four,[17] Devil Dinosaur and Moon-Boy,[18] and the Avengers,[19] along with a brief cameo by Spider-Man in the last issue of the series.[20]

Godzilla also fights other gigantic monsters, including Yetrigar, a Bigfoot-esque giant primate,[21] and the alien creatures the Beta-Beast and the Mega Monsters-Triax, Rhiahn and Krollar.[22] Red Ronin, a giant samurai robot created specifically for the series,[23] reappears in Avengers, Solo Avengers, and an issue of Wolverine, in which Godzilla is given an oblique nod, being referred to as a "time-lost dinosaur," presumably to avoid legal action by Toho. Marvel had, by then, lost the rights to depict Godzilla. Red Ronin also appears in the series Earth X.

Godzilla, Yetrigar and Red Ronin participate in a three-way brawl in the Grand Canyon. From Godzilla, King of the Monsters #11. (June 1978). Published by Marvel Comics. Art by Herb Trimpe and Ernie Chan.

Between February 1979 and July 1979, Marvel had the comic book rights to both Godzilla and the Shogun Warriors. While the characters never crossed paths in their respective comics, artist Herb Trimpe (who did the artwork for both of the series) drew a variation of Godzilla and Rodan alongside Daimos, Great Mazinger, Raydeen, and Gaiking on the top page of a comic book ad soliciting the Shogun Warrior toys.[24] Mattel Toys (who had the license to the Shogun Warriors) also had the licence to produce toys based on Godzilla and Rodan at this time.[25][26] Also around this time, Marvel had prepared another story featuring Godzilla where he would have battled the Dragon Lord. But since the copyright had expired, they modified Godzilla into a dragon-like creature named the Wani for a story published in Marvel Spotlight vol. 2 #5 (March 1980).[27][28]

Despite the loss of copyright, Marvel would continue to use Godzilla for several years afterward. In Iron Man #193, one of Godzilla's primary antagonists from the original series, mad scientist Doctor Demonicus, captures and mutates Godzilla further so that he no longer resembles his Toho namesake. This altered version of the monster first appeared in Iron Man #193[29] and would return in #194 and #196. His last appearance was in The Thing #31, where he is actually referred to as Godzilla (although it is not known if the person saying this actually knows that he is Godzilla or if this is just an example of the name possibly being used to refer to any big green dinosaur, regardless of what it is).[30] Godzilla also appeared in shaded silhouette in a monster handbook viewed by Japanese children in Uncanny X-Men #181. Here the children refer to him as Gojira, his Japanese name.

Outside of this, Godzilla has been referenced or spoofed in other Marvel comics. In Web of Spider-Man Annual #2 from 1986, the character Warlock from The New Mutants turned into Godzilla and then into King Kong during a rampage through New York City.[31] In The New Mutants Annual #3 in 1987, the Impossible Man turns into Godzilla during a battle with Warlock who turns into Red Ronin.[32] In The Amazing Spider-Man #413 from 1996, Spider-Man battles a huge robot toy Godzilla (among other giant robot toys) brought about by the villain Mysterio.[33] In the first issue of The Mighty Avengers from 2007, a creature bearing a resemblance to the Heisei (1980s and '90s) Godzilla appears alongside other giant monsters sent to attack the surface world by the Mole Man.[34] When this issue was solicted in Marvel Previews via a sneak peek page, the creature had Godzilla's distinctive dorsal spines.[35] But when the actual comic was published, the dorsal spines had been removed.[36] Godzilla is also mentioned in the 2005 one-shot comic Marvel Monsters: From the Files of Ulysses Bloodstone and the Monster Hunters.[37] In Astonishing X-Men #36 (which was published in 2011), the monster Fin Fang Foom is rampaging through downtown Tokyo. In one panel, he passes by a building that has a Godzilla billboard on its roof.[38]

The Marvel Comics Atlas (under the article on Japan) states that the Age of Monsters began in 1954, which is evidently a reference to the original Godzilla film. Additionally, the entry mentions that Godzilla returns years later in North America and is the reason for the construction of Red Ronin and the formation of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Godzilla Squad. S.H.I.E.L.D.'s anti-Godzilla helicarrier, Behemoth, has recently resurfaced under the command of Amadeus Cho in The Incredible Hercules #115. Dr. Yuriko Takiguchi, too, has reappeared in recent years, having been recruited by Beast to join his X-Club in Uncanny X-Men #506. Another monster resembling Godzilla served as the "self-destruct event" for Takiguchi's lab on Kunashir Island.[volume & issue needed]

In 2006, Marvel reprinted the entire 24-issue run of Godzilla, King of the Monsters as a trade paperback collection called Essential Godzilla, King of the Monsters.[39] Like all of Marvel's Essential line, the series was published in black and white, rather than color like in its original printing.

Dark Horse Comics[edit]

Godzilla rises from a stormy sea. From Godzilla, King of the Monsters #10 by Dark Horse Comics

In 1987, Dark Horse Comics acquired the rights to Godzilla and for the next 12 years published various comic books and trade paperbacks based on the character. These ran the gamut from back-up stories in anthology titles, to one-shots, to miniseries, to an ongoing series, as well as various reprints in the trade paperback format. In 1987, they published a black and white one-shot comic called Godzilla, King of the Monsters Special #1.[40] Between 1988 and 1989, Dark Horse published a six-issue miniseries simply called Godzilla.[41] It was a translated version of the Japanese manga of the film The Return of Godzilla, which was based on the Japanese version of the film rather than the Americanized version, Godzilla 1985. This series was reprinted in the trade paperback Godzilla,[42] which was issued in 1990 and then reissued in 1995. It was then reprinted in color as the miniseries Dark Horse Classics: Terror of Godzilla #1–6[43] from 1998 to 1999.

In 1992, an illustration of Godzilla (provided by Arthur Adams) was published in San Diego Comic Con Comics #1.[44] Also that same year the one-shot issue Godzilla Color Special #1[45] was published. It would be reprinted as simply Dark Horse Classics: Godzilla #1[46] in 1998.

In 1993, Godzilla was featured in the anthology series Dark Horse Comics in issues #10[47] and #11[48](parts of Dark Horse Comics #10's story and artwork would be slightly altered twice in both Godzilla, King of the Monsters #0 and the trade paperback Godzilla: Age of Monsters). That same year Godzilla was also featured in a pair of one-shot comics, Urban Legends #1,[49] which dispels the dual ending myth from the film King Kong vs. Godzilla, and Godzilla vs. Barkley,[50] which was based on the TV commercial Godzilla vs. Charles Barkley. The latter comic was also published in Japan.[51]

In 1995, Godzilla appeared in the one-shot comic Godzilla versus Hero Zero.[52] That same year Godzilla starred in a second ongoing series called Godzilla, King of the Monsters[53] that ran from issue #0–16. This series was published from 1995 through 1996. The series features several new monsters for Godzilla to battle and a story arc in which Godzilla was flung through time by a would-be archvillain, who uses him to cause both the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and the sinking of the RMS Titanic as well as battle the Spanish Armada. Godzilla would then be flung into the far-flung future as well and would rampage across it before returning to the modern day. The last issue of the Dark Horse series sees Godzilla flung back into time to just a few hours before the asteroid which supposedly destroyed the dinosaurs impacted on Earth, and fighting an alien creature. This issue first seems to have an "it was all a dream" ending, as Godzilla wakes from his slumber in the modern day. But then a twist is thrown into the ending: Godzilla is shown staring at a piece of his opponent's tail that is still in his hand from where he had ripped it off in the final moments of their battle before the impact.

In 1996, Godzilla appeared in the anthology series Dark Horse Presents in issue #106,[54] as well as in issue #4 of the four-issue miniseries A Decade of Dark Horse.[55] Also that same year some of the earlier published material was reprinted in the trade paperback Art Adams' Creature Features.[56]

Finally, in 1998, Godzilla appeared in trade paperbacks and miniseries that were simply reprinting earlier material. This included the miniseries Dark Horse Classics: Godzilla-King of the Monsters #1–6[57] and the trade paperbacks Godzilla: Age of Monsters[58] and Godzilla: Past Present Future.[59]

Trendmasters Godzilla comics[edit]

In 1994, Trendmasters toys published a minicomic called Godzilla, King of the Monsters that came packaged with some of the figures from their Godzilla toy line.[60]

Fox Kids Magazine Godzilla comics[edit]

In 1998, Fox Kids Magazine featured two Godzilla: The Series comics to promote the animated series, one based upon the three-part episode "Monster War" and the other being an original story.

IDW Publishing[edit]

A painted cover of Godzilla attacking a city by Alex Ross. From Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #1 (March 2011) from IDW Publishing

Ongoing series[edit]

In 2010, IDW Publishing obtained the rights for the license to Godzilla. Unlike the previous companies who licensed Godzilla, IDW was able to acquire the rights to other Toho movie monsters.[61] These include Anguirus, Rodan, Mothra, King Ghidorah, Kumonga, Hedorah, Gigan, Mechagodzilla, Titanosaurus, Battra, SpaceGodzilla, Destoroyah, Moguera, Varan, Manda (kaiju), Baragon, Gaira, Sanda, Ebirah, Kamacuras, Gorosaurus, Gezora, Kamoebas, Jet Jaguar, Megalon, King Caesar, Biollante, Mecha-King Ghidorah, Orga, Megaguirus, Zilla and Kiryu. As well as these licensed monsters, IDW introduced a new group of monsters called the Trilopods (トリロポッド). Created by artist Matt Frank, these monsters are based on the prehistoric arthropods called trilobites.

From March 2011 to February 2012, IDW published their first Godzilla series, a 12-issue series called Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters.[62] Originally going to be titled Godzilla: Monster World,[63] the new series launched with a painted cover by Alex Ross as well as a record 100 plus variant covers that were mostly retailer incentives. This promotion allowed comic book shop owners to have personalized variants featuring their store being demolished by Godzilla's foot, if they ordered over 500 copies.[64] Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #1 was therefore able to sell out of its first printing.[65] In August 2011, IDW released a one-shot comic called Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters 100-Cover Charity Spectacular.[66] The comic featured all the unique covers of the comic book store smashing variants of issue #1 via a cover gallery. Proceeds of the sale went to benefit the International Medical Corps for tsunami relief in Japan.[67] The 12-issue series was collected as a three-volume trade paperback collection.[68]

From May 2012 to May 2013, IDW published a second ongoing series, simply called Godzilla.[69] The series ran 13 issues. In November, they began collecting the series as a three-volume trade paperback collection.[70] On April 2014, the entire series was collected as a deluxe trade paperback called Godzilla: History's Greatest Monster.[71]

From June 2013 to June 2015, IDW published their third ongoing series called Godzilla: Rulers of Earth,[72] which ran 25 issues. They began collecting the series as a six-volume trade paperback collection in December 2013.[73] In June 2016, they started to recollect the series as a planned two-volume trade paperback collection called Godzilla: Complete Rulers of Earth.[74]As of 2018, the second volume of this collection remains unpublished.

Miniseries[edit]

Outside of the ongoing series, IDW also published seven miniseries to date. They first published a five-issue miniseries called Godzilla: Gangsters & Goliaths[75] from June–October 2011 that was then collected as a trade paperback in November.[76]

A second five-issue miniseries called Godzilla: Legends was published from November 2011 – March 2012.[77] The miniseries was then collected as a trade paperback in June.[78]

A third five-issue miniseries called Godzilla: The Half-Century War was published from August–December 2012.[79] It was collected as a trade paperback in May 2013.[80] The miniseries was then collected as a hardcover with additional artwork in July 2015.[81] On October 2016, #1 was reprinted as a "Greatest Hits" edition.[82]

A fourth five-issue miniseries called Godzilla: Cataclysm was published from August to December 2014.[83] The miniseries was collected as a trade paperback in March 2015.[84]

A fifth five-issue miniseries called Godzilla in Hell was published from July to November 2015. Issue #1 and #2 of the miniseries went into a 3rd printing, while issue #3 went into a 2nd printing.[85] It was collected as a trade paperback in February 2016.[86]

A sixth five-issue miniseries called Godzilla: Oblivion, which was originally going to be titled Godzilla: World's End,[87] was published from March to July 2016. The miniseries was collected as a trade paperback in October 2016.[88]

A seventh five-issue miniseries called Godzilla: Rage Across Time was published from August through November 2016.[89] Issue #1 went into a second printing, and the miniseries was collected as a trade paperback in December 2016.[90]

One-shots[edit]

In June 2014, IDW published a one-shot comic called Godzilla: The IDW Era.[91] This one-shot gave a brief overview of all the various IDW Godzilla series and miniseries in publication over the past three years.

In June 2016. a one-shot collection called Godzilla Treasury Edition was released. This one-shot features reprints of some of James Stokoe's artwork and covers from the various series and miniseries.[92]

Legendary Comics[edit]

In May 2014, Legendary Comics published Godzilla: Awakening, a graphic novel acting as a prequel to Godzilla (2014).[93] It was written by Max and Greg Borenstein and featured art by Eric Battle, Yvel Giuchet, and Alan Quah. In September (to coincide with the film's home video release) the novel was reissued as a trade paperback.

Bibliography[edit]

Dark Horse Comics[edit]

  • Godzilla (1995, collects Godzilla (vol. 2) #1–6, ISBN 978-1569710630)
  • Godzilla: Age of Monsters (1998, collects Godzilla, King of the Monsters Special #1, Godzilla Color Special #1, Godzilla, King of the Monsters (vol. 3) #0–4 and #16, Godzilla versus Hero Zero #1, and a story from Dark Horse Presents (vol. 1) #106, ISBN 978-1569712771)
  • Godzilla: Past Present Future (1998, collects Godzilla, King of the Monsters (vol. 3) #5–15 and a story from A Decade of Dark Horse #4, ISBN 978-1569712788)

IDW Publishing[edit]

  • Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters
  • Godzilla: Gangsters and Goliaths (2011, collects Godzilla: Gangsters and Goliaths #1–5, ISBN 978-1613770337)
  • Godzilla: Legends (2012, collects Godzilla: Legends #1–5, ISBN 978-1613772232)
  • Godzilla
  • Godzilla: The Half-Century War (paperback edition 2013, hardcover edition 2015, both editions collect Godzilla: The Half Century War #1–5, paperback ISBN 978-1613775950, hardcover ISBN 978-1631403217)
  • Godzilla: Rulers of Earth
    • Volume One (2013, collects Godzilla: Rulers of Earth #1–4, ISBN 978-1613777497)
    • Volume Two (2014, collects Godzilla: Rulers of Earth #5–8, ISBN 978-1613779330)
    • Volume Three (2014, collects Godzilla: Rulers of Earth #9–12, ISBN 978-1631400094)
    • Volume Four (2014, collects Godzilla: Rulers of Earth #13–16, ISBN 978-1631401725)
    • Volume Five (2015, collects Godzilla: Rulers of Earth #17–20, ISBN 978-1631402814)
    • Volume Six (2015, collects Godzilla: Rulers of Earth #21–25, ISBN 978-1631404078)
    • Godzilla: Complete Rulers of Earth Volume One (2016, collects Godzilla: Rulers of Earth #1–12, ISBN 978-1631406263)
    • Godzilla: Complete Rulers of Earth Volume Two (unpublished as of 2018, collects Godzilla: Rulers of Earth #13–25, ISBN 978-1631408137)
  • Godzilla: Cataclysm (2015, collects Godzilla: Cataclysm #1–5, ISBN 978-1631402425)
  • Godzilla in Hell (2016, collects Godzilla in Hell #1–5, ISBN 978-1631405341)
  • Godzilla: Oblivion (2016, collects Godzilla: Oblivion #1–5, ISBN 978-1631407338)
  • Godzilla: Rage Across Time (2016, collects Godzilla: Rage Across Time #1–5, ISBN 978-1631408533)

Other[edit]

References[edit]

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  • Godzilla at the Comic Book DB
  • Godzilla at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe

External links[edit]

Official[edit]

Information[edit]